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Fellow in Focus 2019

03 July 2019 – Fellow in Focus podcast series highlights research carried out by visiting fellows at the Trinity Long Room Hub during 2019.

In 2019, the Trinity Long Room Hub was privileged to host many international visiting research fellows who all shared their time and expertise with the Arts and Humanities community at Trinity and the wider public.

Launching our Fellow in Focus podcast series, we hope you have a chance to catch up on some of the fascinating research collaborations ongoing between Trinity and the various fellows from Italy, South Africa, the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Simona Marchesini in conversation with Anna Chahoud, Professor of Latin in the Department of Classics, TCD.

Linguistics and semantics, archaeology, environmental archaeology, and genetics are all required to study this ‘library of inscriptions’, Dr Marchesini told Professor Anna Chahoud during her Fellow in Focus in March.

A specialist in Messapic language and epigraphy, Dr Simona Marchesini joined the Trinity Long Room Hub in March 2019 to further develop her project around a very special cave in the South East of Italy ‘Grotta Poesia.’ Looking at the function of writing culture at this cave site in southern Apulia, Italy, she spoke to Anna Chahoud, theme convenor of Trinity’s Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures research theme about unlocking the learnings from the past through the richest set of rock inscriptions of the ancient world.

“Italy has always been a place of passage and migration”, said Dr Marchesini paralleling the movement of the Messapic populations and alluding to the current discourse around migrants in Italy and across Europe and noting movingly that the site of this ancient cave-sanctuary is also the site where more recent migratory flows are marked by clothes of migrants arriving on Italy’s coast.

Dr Marchesini is Founder and Scientific Coordinator at Alteritas – Interazioni tra i popoli, a non-profit research institution accredited by the Italian Ministry of Instruction and Research (MIUR)   

To find out more about Trinity’s Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures theme, click here.

Premesh Lalu in conversation with Steve Wilmer, Fellow Emeritus, School of Creative Arts, TCD.


Professor Premesh Lalu joined us from the University of the Western Cape in association with Trinity’s School of Creative Arts for a fellowship from January to March. His research focused on ‘The Practice of Post-Apartheid Freedom’.

Speaking to Professor Wilmer, Professor Lalu spoke of finding a new way to conceive of the history of apartheid and look at questions of race and technological shifts, instrinsically tied to one another, he argued. He also showed a short clip from one of his feature films ‘Looking for Ned’, which explores the aftermath of the murder of Professor Lalu's friend in South Africa.

Coming from a university that was designated for black students during apartheid, Professor Lalu said, it was a university that was denied any arts education. “There was a refusal to allow the teaching of creative disciplines.”

As Director for the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape, he said that the mission of the humanities in that university now is to see how the humanities can lend itself to the reconstitution of the university, the remaking of an apartheid city, and how that institution, marked as a black university, might have something to say in the wider global context that it was never allowed or permitted to say during apartheid.

Premesh Lalu is Professor of History and the Director of the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape. Lalu is a board member of the international Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes and a former Chairperson of the Handspring Trust for Puppetry in Education. Read more about his research here.


Alex Alsemgeest interviewed by Laura Shanahan, Head of Trinity College Library Research Collections, TCD.

Alex Alsemgeest is a researcher with the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands, and joined the Trinity Long Room Hub as a fellow in association with Trinity College Library from January to March. His visit focused on researching the contents of Trinity Library’s 18th century Fagel collection with a view to providing descriptions for the The Short-Title Catalogue Netherlands, the Dutch retrospective bibliography for books printed before 1801. 

The Fagel Collection is the 18th century private collection of the Fagels, one of the most important families of the province of Holland, many of whom held high public office. It was acquired by Trinity College Dublin in 1802, and contains books, pamphlets and maps. In a Fellow in Focus with Laura Shanahan, Head of Research Collections at Trinity College Library he described the difficult task of adding 2500 titles to the Trinity College Catalogue on the Fagel Collection.

Looking at the uniqueness of the Fagel Collection at Trinity, Mr Alsemgeest described an estimated 10% of the items as unique and not found anywhere else in the world. He argued that the collection, is best understood when comparing and connecting to other collections, particularly in the Netherlands and this is one of the reasons why a digital archive is so important. “The most productive work you can do is catalogue records, and try to create data”, said Alex in describing his profession as a book historian and bibliographer.


Alex Alsemgeest was part of the programme for the royal visit of the Dutch King and Queen to Trinity College Dublin in June 2019, see here for more information.


Leo Lefebure interviewed by Jude Lal Fernando, Assistant Professor, School of Religion

“Religion is one of the most important but problematic forces in the world,” commented Professor Lefebure during his recent fellowship at the Hub.

Professor Lefebure, Georgetown University, was a visiting fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub from March to May in association with the School of Religion. Professor Lefebure’s research project 'Transforming Irish Catholic Identity: Attitudes and Actions of Irish American Catholics toward Racial and Religious Diversity in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries' was discussed in his Fellow in Focus in April with Dr Jude Lal Fernando, Director of Trinity Centre for Post-Conflict Justice.

A professor of Theology at Georgetown University in Washington and priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Professor Lefebure spoke to Dr Fernando about growing up in Chicago and his exposure to early inter-religious conversations with the Jewish community in a nearby neighbourhood, leading to a life-long career in interacting with different religious traditions.

“There’s many conflicts in which religions play a problematic role but again and again in my own experience I’ve met wonderful people from one tradition after another wrestling with similar problems and that’s what gives me hope for the future”, he told an audience in the Hub’s Hoey Ideas Space.


Going back to the nineteenth century, Professor Lefebure is looking at the changes in attitudes towards religious pluralism by Irish American Catholic leaders who came from societies dominated by religious and racial prejudice.

Professor Lefebure's important work will explore how Irish American Catholics related to white Protestants, American Indians, and African Americans, and how some leaders pioneered an acceptance of religious pluralism that would instigate later transformations in the church.

To find out more about Professor Lefebure’s research, click here.

Philip Morgan interviewed by Desmond Ryan, Associate Professor, School of Law

Examining Tort Law and its application to machine learning and artificial intelligence, Professor Philip Morgan joined the Trinity Long Room Hub for a visiting fellowship in May 2019 in association with the School of Law.

Speaking to Desmond Ryan, Associate Professor with a special interest in Employment Law and Tort Law, Professor Morgan spoke about the many types of tort law which all deal with ‘discreet problems’, including defamation and personal injury.

Discussing how tort law might adapt to meet the demands of new technologies, he spoke of the opportunities to help shape legislation in Ireland and England.

“When we replace a human with a machine we have a problem”, he stated. “The law treats machines as property, not as an actor that’s capable of committing a wrong.” In terms of employment and tort law, he argued that “if we replace a human with a machine, there is no tort committed by the machine, even if the machine commits the same harm against the human victim; the machine cannot commit a tort, therefore there is no wrong of the machine to link vicarious liability to the employer.”


Phillip Morgan is a Senior Lecturer in the University of York. Professor Morgan has assisted courts (including the Supreme Court of Ireland) and government bodies around the world to develop the law of vicarious liability, and tort, to challenging modern conditions.

For more information on our fellowship programme, visit our website here.

For the full playlist, visit our Soundcloud Library here.


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